The Legend of Zelda: The Alternate Link

Chapter 20: The Strongest Side

Exiting the temple proved to not be as arduous a task as everyone had first suspected. The guardian had generously deserted them in the uppermost portion of the temple in return for its defeat. Faced with little choice, the group of four had decided to thoroughly inspect all of the circular platforms, hoping to find a safe and efficient way to descend to the lower levels since hurdling the golden guardrails didn't seem particularly promising. In little time, they had discovered a shimmering puddle of dark blue light on one of the platforms. Stepping into it had instantly delivered them all to Lanayru's serene spring. The light spirit was nowhere in sight, which wasn't entirely uncommon. The spirits were naturally reserved and because they had obtained the tear Lanayru had no further business with them.

Princess Zelda retrieved her cloak from where she had abandoned it earlier and the foursome left the cave. As they stepped outside Link turned his attention to the sky. The sun was on the brink of twilight, painting the sky in warm colors of gold and deep purple.

"Wow…I didn't think it was that late," Kid commented, marveling at the position of the sun as well.

Link tore his gaze away from the early evening sky and towards his companions, "We still have some daylight left. We can go to Castle Town and stay somewhere for the night."

"If we decide to leave and travel back to Castle Town we will have to avoid guards. Even with this cloak on, most will know who I am and may try to force me to return to the castle. If that happens, there is no guarantee that I will be able to leave again. Aside from that, there's the fact that we will surely run out of daylight within the hour. That means we will be forced to travel at dusk. Enemies may find us vulnerable," Princess Zelda pointed out.

"And who's to say we won't get attacked if we decide to stay here?" Tetra countered, "The way I see it, moving is our best bet. Besides, if we're in town that means we'll have less distance to travel to the next spirit spring, unless I'm wrong of course."

"You're right," Link assured the younger girl, "Hyrule Castle Town is situated in the very center of Hyrule. According to the plan that Zelda laid out we're heading to Eldin's Spring next, in which case we'll have to cut through town anyway."

"It's settled then," Tetra declared. "We're moving on to Castle Town. Now, how do we get out of here?"

"With that," Link answered, nodding his head at the colorful contraption in the distance.

"What is it?" Kid wondered, viewing the multicolored shack with curious eyes.

"A cannon that will shoot us back up to where we descended to the lake from," Link responded as he led them over the wooden bridges and well-spaced islands.

"Does it ever miss?" Kid asked seeming nervous.

"Not to my knowledge, no," Link replied.

"There's not a safer way out of here?" Kid checked.

"It's safe. Trust me, there's nothing to worry about," Link reassured him. He didn't blame Kid for his anxiousness. Link had been skeptical of it at first too. He just wondered why the younger boy seemed so unsure of a cannon while he had fallen into step with the rhythm of the trial, temple, and guardian almost instantly. He had noticed the same thing with Tetra. It was as if they had both been in those types of perilous situations before and developed an understanding of how to best deal with them.

Link wished he could question them and try to force them to answer, but Zelda had told him to wait during their conversation on her balcony the night before. She claimed that the truth would reveal itself if they were patient enough. Patience, however, could only go so far, and Link wondered how long he could tolerate it. Each moment they spent together spawned new questions and no answers. Despite that, he had promised the princess he would resist the urge to interrogate them since that would likely cause them to become even more guarded than they currently were.

Hopefully, all of the traveling and dungeon crawling would allow them to get to know each other better. For now, Link would content himself with trying to ignore the questions plaguing his mind and go with the flow of things.

They reached the shack in a handful of short minutes. Fyer stood in his usual spot, a bored expression on his face that changed slightly as soon as he noticed the approaching customers.

'Welcome!" Fyer called, waving them closer to the attraction, "I take it you're traveling again, eh Link? Oh, and with companions this time."

"Yup," Link nodded, hoping to keep the conversation brief.

"So what'll it be this time? The normal flight or the oasis flight?" Fyer asked, getting down to business.

"Normal flight," Link answered.

"That one eh? Alright. For four people that's forty rupees," Fyer said holding out his hand, expecting payment. Link reached into his wallet and pulled out the designated amount of rupees, dropping the currency into the smaller man's outstretched hand.

"Step right this way," Fyer instructed, trapping the money in his palm and stepping to the side. The hatch that would allow them entry to the strange contraption swung open, and they all filed inside. It closed with a finalizing bang. Faint music could be heard from outside and the space became cramped.

It wasn't long before they were all flying through the open air, ears ringing from the cannon blast. After the battle with the snake-like guardian, the sensation wasn't half as terrifying or nearly as thrilling as it was supposed to be. Everyone managed to land on their feet near the relative center of the landing platform.

They entered the small structure to their left and climbed down from the loft via ladder. When they exited the building and crested the small slope, Link could see the horses grazing a small way away from where they had left them.

"So they really did stay," Tetra mused as they approached the two animals.

"I told you they would. They're well trained," Link replied proudly as he reached Epona and she nuzzled him affectionately. He smiled and patted her side in return.

"Do you need any help getting on?" Link asked turning to Kid who was at his side.

"I'm pretty sure I got it," Kid answered as he put a foot into the stirrup and used the saddle to support himself as he mounted. Link swung up behind him, reins in hand. After confirming that everyone was situated on a horse, they set off back the way they had come at a steady pace.

During their discussion the night before, Link had mentioned to Zelda the discomfort in his left hand every time he so much as brushed by the younger boy in passing. She had been puzzled as well but told him that picturing the Triforce of Courage being protected by clear, sturdy walls should help discourage a reaction. So far it had worked, and now he barely even felt a pulsing. Princess Zelda's Triforce of Wisdom naturally reacted to his when they touched but never had it been painful. It had felt like someone was tickling the back of his hand with a feather, nothing more.

As they progressed, the sky grew steadily darker, twilight lengthening into a moonlit evening. Link kept his eyes open for enemies the entire time, searching the high ridges to either side of them for threats. However, there were none. A light breeze glanced off their backs as the horses trotted through the pass. He wanted to avoid calling unwanted attention to themselves and tried to ignore Tetra ordering him to urge the animals to go faster.

The fiery girl deeply amused him at times by the way she seemed to take control of every situation like it was her job and viewed everyone else as inferior. He wondered how her parents dealt with her or if they were the same way.

They continued through the pass for what must have been at least another hour before emerging into the field. The town walls stood proudly in the distance, illuminated by soft fire light. Link and Zelda urged their mounts forward. After the taxing trial and unusual temple, Link actually felt a bit fatigued and extremely famished.

The prospect of a home-cooked meal and bed was too tantalizing to resist, and it was all he could do to keep from urging Epona to go faster and break their stealth. They reached the outskirts of town fairly quickly despite their relaxed pace and dismounted their steeds.

"Are we leaving the horses again?" Kid wondered as he dismounted.

"Yes, but not out here," Link said grabbing Epona's reins to lead the crimson mare on foot, "There's a stable that will care for them for a small fee until we're ready to depart in the morning."

Link and Zelda led the horses into town while Kid and Tetra trailed behind them. When they entered town they turned right to enter the stables. They were a fairly new addition to Castle Town and something that Link had suggested to the princess before they could no longer speak because of her occupied schedule. He had often passed it by on his last venture and always noted how the spaced seemed wasted, housing a couple goats that didn't seem to have any purpose. It proved to be a useful asset to the town, especially for travelers and merchants, and it soon paid for itself.

They dropped off the horses and exited, promising to return in the morning. The town itself wasn't nearly as lively as it normally was. Most of the townsfolk were heading home, others running last minute errands. By now, Link was accustomed to the town. It was a boisterous, purpose-filled marketplace during the day and as everyone retreated indoors it became a safe, quiet place for stray animals to roam the streets at night.

"Where are we going exactly?" Princess Zelda queried.

"Well, I was thinking Telma's," Link admitted.

"Telma's?" Princess Zelda exclaimed, struggling to keep her voice hushed, "But Link, that's a bar. Normally, I wouldn't object, but we have children with us. They won't let us in."

"Yes, they will," Link argued as they strolled down the cobblestone street. "Telma's a friend of mine. She'll do me a favor if I ask."

"I don't see what's wrong with a bar," Tetra piped up, stretching her arms above her head, "It's not like we're going there to drink, and we're not children."

"Are you 16?" Link asked, teasing her about the minimum age that would allow her legal entry to the bar.

"Are you 18?" Tetra countered slyly.

"Are you children quite finished?" Princess Zelda sighed.

"Like you're one to talk! If you weren't by law a child then you'd be queen!" Tetra shot back.

"That's not true. I'm nineteen, but my father is technically the king."

"Why do you say technically?" Kid wondered, joining in on the conversation.

"Because, while he is the king, he signed over the kingdom to me officially. I'm not honored with the title of queen because my father refuses to grant it to me lest I marry which isn't happening anytime soon," Princess Zelda explained.

A few minutes later, they were descending the steps that led to the bar. As they entered the building it became evident immediately that it was one of the bar's busier evenings. Almost every table was filled with customers. Most were men but there were some women that could be glimpsed among them. The majority appeared to be drunk but that wasn't unusual. It was a bar after all.

Link scanned the room for the owner, Telma. After a couple seconds he spotted her heading back to the bar counter, an empty tray in hand. He made his way in the same direction beckoning for his companions to follow behind him closely, especially the younger ones. It wasn't long before Telma noticed them.

"Well well….if it isn't Link! How have you been?" Telma greeted him, stashing the tray underneath the counter before coming closer.

"Pretty good. How about you?" Link replied, leaning on the counter in a relaxed fashion.

"I've been fine. Not that I'm not glad to see you, but why are you here, honey? Are you just visiting or do you come with business in mind?" Telma wondered.

"Well, actually I've come to ask if my companions, and I can stay here for the night," Link confessed, gesturing to the three people behind him. Telma seemed to just notice the others.

She nodded approvingly. "Sure. I don't see a problem with it. The entire Resistance is gone at the moment, so there's plenty of room."

"Why are the Resistance gone?" Link questioned, suddenly intrigued. It was unusual for them all to be absent.

A customer hollered for Telma's services, and she spoke in a rush before departing, "I'll tell you later. For now go sit in the back. I'll send some food over when I get a chance." With that she left, shouting back at the rowdy customer to stop his yelling.

Link and his companions headed to the back table where the members of the Resistance normally sat. As soon as they were seated Tetra asked, "Who are the Resistance?"

"They're a small group of people that do what they can to help maintain the peace around Hyrule," Link answered as Telma's cat, Louise, hopped up onto the table, demanding his attention. He scratched her behind her ears, and she purred to show her pleasure. A short while later, food was delivered to their table, and they all began to eat ravenously. Well after they were all finished, the bar settled down some which allowed Telma time to slip away for a conversation.

"So, you wanted to know what the Resistance was up to," Telma began coming over to their table, not bothering to sit down with the knowledge that the peace was temporary.

"Yeah, why did they all leave?" Link wondered.

"Apparently strange things are going on in Kakariko. The gorons are having problems, with what exactly I'm not sure, but they've all gone to investigate," Telma explained.

"We're actually heading to Kakariko tomorrow," Link admitted.

"Then I'd be careful," Telma cautioned, "Chances are whatever it is it isn't anything good."

"Right, we'll be careful," Link replied. Telma was called away from the conversation then, but before she left she quickly told Link that they could head to the living quarters and go to bed if they wished. Link knew where it was because he had stayed at the bar a day or two before on his previous adventure. He led his comrades through the strong wooden doors in the back, and they climbed a flight of stairs up to a hallway. To the left was an open doorway leading to a decent sized living room. Beyond that on the same side was Telma's room which he had never been in and she kept locked at all times anyway. To the right was the bedroom where the members of the Resistance normally slept. He opened the door and everyone, including Louise, followed him inside.

"What do you think's going on at that village?" Tetra asked, hopping onto the nearest bed.

"I don't know, but if it's some conflict I hope the Resistance solves it tonight, so we can avoid it tomorrow," Link answered her, sitting down on one of the other beds.

"This is the first I'm hearing of it," Princess Zelda said as she lit the few candles in the room, "It could be nothing but bargaining trouble in Hyrule Castle Town since they haven't been around for the past few days."

"Let's hope that's all it is," Link sighed, taking off his sword and shield and setting them down beside the bed. Kid seemed to be removing his gear as well when Louise trotted up to him. He tried to pet her but she hissed before he could touch her and whipped her fluffy white tail back and forth in agitation. Kid held his hands up in surrender.

"Hey, you came to him," Link scolded the Persian, knowing fully well that she could understand him even if she acted like she didn't sometimes, "Be nice, will you Louise?" The cat simply stuck her nose in the air and walked away from Kid as if nothing had happened.

"What did you do?" Tetra asked, a devious smile on her face as she addressed Kid.

"Nothing!" Kid insisted.

"Kid, by now I know when you're lying. Now out with it, what did you do to the poor cat?" Tetra persisted, not backing down.

"I didn't do anything to the cat. She just hates me," Kid replied honestly.

"There has to be a reason though," Tetra pressed, "You were in Castle Town before right? So what did you do to upset the cat?"

"I...might have um…well, Agitha and I needed to get the letter to the postman somehow and since he was inside the bar and it's no children allowed we kind of….snuck in," Kid explained in a rush, "And we almost got caught because of her," he added pointing accusingly to Louise who was currently licking her paw.

"Don't worry, we won't tell," Link assured him. Link had been in a good number of places he shouldn't have been before, so he wasn't going to hold it against Kid. After all, if he hadn't done it, then the letter would never have come close to Ordon.

"I don't know…it's pretty tempting," Tetra taunted, tapping her chin with a finger in thought. The next few minutes consisted of the two children arguing good-naturedly with each other while Link and Zelda added in comments of their own. Eventually the conversation dwindled down to nothing and everyone was more than ready to go to sleep.

"Wake us up early tomorrow morning, Louise," Link requested of the cat that chose to lay down by his side. She meowed as if in agreement, and Link blew out the last candle that prevented the room from being completely shrouded in darkness. Sleep overtook him almost immediately.

The next morning Link awoke to a scream. Disoriented, he sat bolt right up and scanned the room, instinctively reaching for his sword which he realized a second later was on the floor. Everyone else was sitting up as well, disheveled from sleep. That's when he noticed Kid was cradling the side of his face.

"What happened?" Link asked, shaking off the lingering tendrils of sleep.

"The cat scratched me," Kid answered, indicating Louise with a nod of his head. The cat was perched on the end of Kid's bed with a smug look on her face.

"Let me see," Zelda said, getting out of bed and walking the short distance to Kid's bed.

"Louise, when I said, 'Wake us up in the morning' I didn't mean like this," Link reprimanded the cat who appeared to give a small impassive shrug before slipping out the barely open door.

"Like the cat really understands you," Tetra muttered rolling her eyes.

"She does though," Link argued, getting out of bed.

"It's shallow," Princess Zelda announced, "How much does it hurt?"

"Not too much. It startled me more than it hurt me," Kid admitted.

"I don't understand why the cat would do that though," Tetra spoke up, stretching.

"She was probably still holding a grudge against him for sneaking in," Link concluded.

"Does that mean she's over it now?" Kid inquired hopefully.

"Maybe," Link shrugged, pulling on his boots. The foursome got ready to leave the bar. Somehow the commotion had not awoken Telma and only when they stepped out of the room did she emerge from her own room. They chatted minimally on the way downstairs and Telma offered to cook them all breakfast which they accepted gratefully.

After a quick but delicious breakfast they got ready to depart. Telma wished them good luck and told them to be careful. Link assured her they would and the group of four left. They strolled down the street towards the stables. A few people were milling about, most merchants setting up their shops for the day. Thankfully, they hadn't encountered any soldiers so far but everyone kept a wary eye out for the armored men regardless. Reaching the stables took less time than usual since they didn't have to weave through a crowd. Link and Zelda retrieved their horses after paying the small fee required.

As soon as they exited town through the western gate, everyone mounted the horses, and Link led them through the small tunnel and over the bridge. They rode hard for about an hour before slowing down. Nothing had interrupted them or disturbed the hilly landscape. They were at a comfortable pace for a few minutes before Zelda spoke up, "Link, look over there."

Link settled his gaze on where Zelda was pointing and was actually surprised to see bulblin on the horizon. Some appeared to be atop bullbos, others on the ground.

"Weird. They don't seem to be coming any closer," Kid commented as they all surveyed the sight before them.

"This is King Bulblin's territory, so they shouldn't bother us if we mind our own business," Link explained. King Bulblin originated from the desert, but Link knew that over the course of the last few months he has been constantly changing his claims to territory. The reason for this still eluded Link.

"That makes no sense. They're monsters, aren't they?" Tetra spoke up shaking her head, "Monsters attack anything that come close, especially if it's in their territory."

"They are monsters, but they're different. Their leader, King Bulblin is intelligent enough to be able to speak. He believes in fighting for the strongest side, and whatever he fights for, the others do as well," Link responded, urging Epona to keep going. As they progressed, Link began to notice that bulblins had appeared to their left also.

"Link, are you sure it’s okay? It looks like they are everywhere except for in front of us," Princess Zelda spoke up again after a couple minutes had passed.

"They're probably just doing a border check," Link answered. Whether the words were meant to console himself or the princess, it wasn't clear, but Link saw no other sensible explanation.

"Sure, because I bring my entire army to my border checks!" Tetra piped up, her words drowning in sarcasm.

"Is there a rule saying that monsters can't bring their whole army to their border checks?" Link replied, his tone nowhere close to serious.

"There should be because it's really unsettling to have hundreds of monsters watching you," Kid chimed in, glancing at the creatures in the distance that had only seemed to grow in number the past few minutes. They continued on in silence fully aware of the militia gathered around them. As they neared the hill, a bulkier figure poised atop an armored mount came into view, flanked by bulblins on either side.

"Good job navigator! You led us right into a trap!" Tetra exclaimed, gesturing at the surrounding monsters for emphasis.

"You don't know that," Link countered, refusing to believe that his companion was correct, "King Bulblin probably just wants to know what business we have in his territory."

"Alright, so he had to bring a horde of enemies with him. Right, like that makes sense," Tetra rolled her eyes.

"It could be a precaution," Kid suggested.

"You're both wrong!" Tetra insisted, crossing her arms over her chest in defiance, "Stop being stupid. It's pretty obvious that they're closing in on us. They've been slowly advancing this whole time!" Link did notice that the bulblins seemed closer than before, but he was still in denial. There was no reason for King Bulblin to attack them. They were the strongest side, and had been since almost a year ago. That wouldn't just suddenly change.

Their small group approached the hill that King Bulblin was on. Once they were within shouting distance, Link stopped Epona and Princess Zelda pulled up beside him.

"King Bulblin! Could you let us through please?" Link asked. If they weren't hostile, then Link didn't want to change that by being too straightforward.

"I could," King Bulblin replied and for a second Link thought he really would let them pass, "but I refuse to comply with your request."

"Why are you attacking us?" Link wondered, genuinely confused.

"I haven't attacked you….yet," King Bulblin answered, "You see, we can still avoid conflict. Give me the princess and you and your remaining companions can go on your way."

"Sorry, but you can't have her," Link said, narrowing his eyes. He should have expected that traveling with the ruler of Hyrule would bring trouble.

"In that case, you force my hand," King Bulblin sighed in a disappointed fashion.

"Wait! What about the strongest side? Do you not live by that saying any more?" Link queried in a desperate attempt to stop the battle before it had a chance to start.

"I still abide by it. However, it seems that your information is sorely outdated," King Bulblin responded calmly, "because one fact seems to elude you."

"And what is this "fact"?" Link inquired, not really looking forward to an answer.

"You are no longer the strongest side," King Bulblin stated. There was barely a moment to absorb the meaning of the words for a second later King Bulblin blew into his curved horn, ordering his army to charge. From all sides bulblins advanced. Some held bows while others waved various weapons in the air screeching a battle cry.

"Next time, I’m leading," Tetra said, glaring at Link.

"Shut up," Link ordered her, drawing his sword. There was no time for them to argue about leadership. They were greatly outnumbered and that became even clearer as their enemies drew closer.

"Plan?" Zelda wanted to know as some of the bulblins drew arrows with tips ignited in brilliant orange flames.

"You two keep the bulblins at bay," Link commanded, "I'm going to take down King Bulblin. If we can defeat him the others will stop." There was no longer any time for conversation. They had to move. Now. Fire arrows rained down on them, and Link spurred Epona into a gallop to avoid the projectiles. He cut down the bulblin nearest to them, and Kid tried to draw his sword to help, but Link stopped him.

"I can fight too," Kid objected.

"I know, but unless you've fought on horseback before I prefer you didn't. It's not easy and you'll probably end up hurting yourself or falling off. For now keep your head down," Link instructed, ducking to avoid an arrow. King Bulblin hadn't moved from his spot on the hill so it shouldn't have been hard to reach him. However, with the ocean of enemies before them he might as well have been miles away. Link knew that stopping to fight was suicide. There were far too many enemies to deal with, and they stood no chance of prevailing unless they took down the leader. He settled for urging Epona to run at top speed, hoping to trample the enemies on the ground and hacking at the bulblins mounted on bullbos whenever they came too close. When Epona managed to get them to King Bulblin, the other enemies immediately lost interest.

King Bulblin laughed and dismounted Lord Bullbo, taking his massive axe from his mount. Link regarded him with distrust, gripping his sword tightly in his left hand.

"You don't have to do this," Link tried to reason with the monster, "Who's making you? You know they're just controlling you right? You don't get any benefit out of it. Why not let us go?"

"I have free will, hero," King Bulblin spat, pronouncing the last word as if it were a curse, "No one controls me." He swung his axe, meaning to take out Epona's legs. The horse shied away from the attack.

"Okay, then who's giving you the instruction to do this?" Link rephrased his question.

"That information is classified," King Bulblin answered, a smug look on his face, "Stop talking and let's play."

Link dismounted Epona, his eyes never leaving King Bulblin. "Go help the girls," Link whispered to Kid as he passed by. Even though Kid didn't know how to ride, Link knew that Epona would do most of the work on her own. He heard the sound of hooves grow fainter and turned to face King Bulblin. He had defeated him before, this time shouldn't be any different. The monster's attire was slightly different from usual. He wielded his axe the same as before, but this time he had shields firmly attached to both of his arms as well as armor thickly coating his body.

King Bulblin sent a measured swing his way, and Link back flipped to avoid it. He rushed in afterwards, slashing at the monster with his sword and leaping to the side to dodge the next attack. He hadn't even managed to put a dent in the armor. Whoever King Bulblin was working for had certainly done a good job of upgrading his gear. Link repeated the same process and dodged before the iron axe could go barreling into him. However, King Bulblin put good use to the large gleaming shields on his arms and thrust forward, catching Link off guard and sending him tumbling to the ground. He rolled out of the way just in time as King Bulblin brought his axe down like a hammer. In fact, he used so much force that it got stuck in the ground. Not wasting a second Link got back to his feet and turned around to find a weak point. Before he could strike though he was shocked to find Kid leap up from behind King Bulblin and perform a helm splitter. The technique was executed perfectly, however, thanks to the helmet King Bulblin wore the attack did nothing but allow Kid to impressively land on top of the axe which had just been wrenched free from the soft flesh of the earth.

He was launched into the air with a yell of surprise. Link never saw him land because the bulk of King Bulblin prevented it. 'Did he really just use a hidden skill?!' Link asked himself in disbelief.

King Bulblin shook him out of his thoughts with an unexpectedly swift attack. Kid joined him a few seconds later, appearing to be completely fine.

"What are you doing? I told you to go help the girls!" Link demanded, nimbly dodging another shield bash.

"I can't get to them. There's a barrier that's separating us from the rest of the battle," Kid quickly explained as he ran beside Link, the two of them trying to distance themselves from their enemy so they had time to think. Fortunately for them, the arena was a good size and their enemy slow.

"Well that's just great," Link muttered. He hoped that the girls could hold off the monsters themselves a little longer. Being only two people, they wouldn't last long, no matter how much skill they possessed. The enemy forces would surely overwhelm them eventually meaning that King Bulblin needed to be dealt with immediately.

With renewed energy, Link turned to Kid, "Follow my lead. If you find an opening in his armor go for it. We need to end this as quickly as possible." Kid nodded, and the two boys charged at King Bulblin who had little time to prepare an attack. He raised his massive axe, ready to strike. Kid had seemingly found a weak point in the armor around the large monster's chest and struck it, eliciting a grunt of pain from King Bulblin. That didn't stop him from swinging his weapon though. Link dropped to the ground to avoid the blow and Kid was forced to do so as well.

As soon as the axe passed harmlessly over their heads a second time, Link leaped up and Kid followed his example. Link had found a weak point as well and was currently targeting the concealed straps that held the armor on. He successfully removed a piece of the metal on King Bulblin's left side before having to get out of the way. When the pair returned for another attack King Bulblin brought both of his arms together so the shields fastened to his arms provided his entire front with protection. While his front was protected, his back was wide open. Link leapt and rolled to the right, managing to get behind King Bulblin. Kid completed a similar maneuver, and while Link attacked the one part of King Bulblin's back that wasn't coated in armor, Kid set to cutting loose the barely visible ties, causing King Bulblin to involuntarily shed his armor.

Suddenly King Bulblin whipped his axe around with more speed than he had displayed before. Kid was the closest and didn't have time to get out of the way as the shoulder of the axe sent him flying into Link with brutal force. Both boys fell to the ground a few feet from where they had just been standing, dazed and sore.

"Are you okay?" Link asked, not daring to sit up in case the boy on top of him was seriously injured.

"Fine," Kid coughed out, getting off of Link.

"You sure?" Link checked, knowing fully well the damage that axe could cause.

"Yeah; let's finish this," Kid said, not sounding quite as breathless as before and standing up. Link scrambled to his feet and turned to face the monster that was slowly advancing. King Bulblin was naturally slow as a result of his size but as he was stripped of his armor he seemed to be getting swifter. They'd have to be more cautious.

This time when they charged in they were immediately knocked back by the shields. Link and Kid both stumbled back but neither fell. King Bulblin was almost completely freed of his metal attire which left his sickly green skin exposed. Link instantly came up with a plan to get the job done fast. He quickly explained his idea to Kid, and they engaged King Bulblin in combat once again.

Link ran to the left side while Kid approached from the center. Link feinted a strike to King Bulblin's right side which caused him to instinctively ready his right arm as a means of defense. Link allowed his sword to clank harmlessly off of the shield and rolled expertly out of the way when the monster made to attack him with his shield, being sure to stay at his enemy's side. King Bulblin kept his right shield raised and used his left in an attempt to keep Kid at bay.

Link struck the metal shield in front of him to let King Bulblin know he was still there. It seemed to get the message across because the monster attempted a half-hearted shield bash. Link watched as Kid stepped back slightly to get a running start and caught King Bulblin off guard as he ran up the shield that the bulblin leader held protectively in front of him. The monster tried to shake the boy off by flinging his arm to the left. This had been what Kid was waiting for though, and he voluntarily jumped off. He landed close to King Bulblin and used his sword to assail the monster.

Unlike the previous attacks, King Bulblin could do nothing about this one because both boys had his hands occupied. He needed two hands to properly swing his axe which was clutched uselessly in his right hand. The monster could not remove his right arm from where it was currently positioned because that would give Link an opening and the shield on his left arm wasn't any help since Kid was already so close to him.

"Enough!" King Bulblin bellowed, startling Kid so much that he actually did halt his multitude of attacks. This allowed King Bulblin mobility, and he stepped back. The wavering pale gold barrier caging them in disappeared. He remounted Lord Bullbo in silence. As he passed the pair he declared, "Just because you have bested me does not prove your strength." With that he left, the barely reduced number of bulblins trailing after him.

They had no trouble locating the girls in the now barren field. Both of them were standing on their own two feet which Link took as a good sign. Link and Kid rejoined the pair. Princess Zelda didn't seem to have much more than a scratch or two but Tetra was another story. Blood poured out of a gash on her left arm and multiple scrapes and cuts dusted her legs as she leaned on Zelda slightly for support.

"Link I have medical supplies in my horse's saddle bags," Princess Zelda announced as soon as they were in range of being heard clearly, "While I go get them I need you to stay with her."

"Of course," Link replied, hurrying over and relieving Zelda of the young girl by her side. Kid hovered nearby in concern. Link sat down in the grass and gently pulled Tetra down with him.

"I'm okay," she insisted in an exasperated tone.

"No, you're not, here," Kid said, holding out a bottle with red liquid inside towards Tetra. She accepted the bottle from him and downed its contents, grimacing at the taste. The minor injuries faded away as if they had never been inflicted in the first place. However, the potion did little to mend the wound on her arm.

Princess Zelda returned a few seconds later upon Pegasus. She dismounted her snow white steed and reached inside a bag, pulling out a bottle of potion and a roll of bandages. She sat down on the other side of Tetra.

"Kid already gave her some potion," Link informed the princess who nodded in comprehension.

While Zelda tended to Tetra, Link turned to Kid, motioning for him to sit down as well. "You should drink some red potion too," Link advised, remembering when the younger boy had been struck by King Bulblin's massive weapon. Kid contemplated it for a second before reaching over and picking up the bottle of red potion that Zelda had set aside when she learned she didn't need it anymore. Link noticed as Kid winced at the small action. After Kid drank the potion a strange look crossed his face.

"What?" Link wondered, confused. Did the potion not work?

"Nothing, it's just it….doesn't taste bad," Kid responded, setting the empty bottle down.

"Um, is it supposed to taste bad?" Link asked. Through his experience the potions have always tasted pretty bland aside from a hint of sweetness, but never had he thought of describing the concoctions as disgusting.

"Well, all the potions I've ever had haven't tasted particularly good," Kid answered truthfully, "Except for this one."

"That was supposed to be for me!" Tetra exclaimed suddenly, her injury doing nothing to stop her from being her usual haughty self. "I should never have accepted that potion from you."

"It helped you though," Kid countered, smiling.

"And left a bitter taste in my mouth!" Tetra shot back.

"What's in your potions here anyway?" Kid asked Zelda, ignoring Tetra's last comment and causing the young girl to glare at him menacingly.

"The main ingredient is Chu jelly which already has natural healing properties, but brewers infuse it with water and herbs to amplify the effects. Then I believe they add fruit extract of some kind to give it a more appealing taste," Princess Zelda explained, not looking up from her work, "I'm not sure what was in the one that you gave her, but it seems to be stronger than the one I was going to give her. Do you know what was in it?"

"Uh…..I know that Chu jelly was in it…." Kid trailed off.

"Pure chu jelly then?" Zelda wondered, a bit incredulous.

"No," Kid said, shaking his head, "I know that there's more added to it, but I'm not sure what it is."

"Is it really wise to be drinking it then?" Link interjected.

Kid shrugged, "Probably not, but it works well."

"We're not dead yet, are we?" Tetra added with a wink.

"Fair enough," Link laughed. A few minutes later Tetra was patched up and they remounted the horses. The foursome continued on to Kakariko which was still a good distance away. It was fortunate that their destination was Eldin's Spring because it would be able to heal whatever the potions hadn't. Overall, Tetra seemed to be the worse off although Link suspected that Kid was in more pain than he was letting on which was why they were moving at a relaxed pace. Despite a few scratches Zelda was fine. Link had miraculously gotten out unscathed, other than being a little exhausted from fighting. He thanked his chainmail for that. Without it, he was sure that he'd be nurturing, at the least, a bruise on his chest from the couple times he had been shield bashed.

In the end, he was mad at himself for letting them all get tangled up in a trap in the first place. To make matters worse he had acted exactly as King Bulblin had wanted, and as a result, became separated from the girls which caused Tetra to get injured. While he should have instructed Kid to stay away, he'd let the boy help which allowed him to get hurt. Link was supposed to be protecting them, so he felt at least, but he wasn't doing such a great job. No one was fatally injured but still. They could have been, and that was a problem.

Despite getting wounded in battle, they both seemed relatively calm about the entire situation and neither shed a tear as he was sure they should have done by now. He had known as soon as he laid eyes on them that they were different from other children their age, but now he thought he understood it a bit more. Regardless from where they were from, they had obviously been involved in many battles. When Kid was fighting, he noticed that his moves were fluid and graceful like water, and he never missed a beat. Adding to it, he had performed one of the hidden skills which Link was still trying to understand exactly how it was possible.

Aside from that, there was a more prominent issue that bothered him. King Bulblin had said right before the battle began that they were no longer the strongest side which ultimately posed the dreaded question: If they weren't strongest side, then who was?

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